Chip Kelly: Jimmie Ward is 49ers' best cornerback

Chip Kelly: Jimmie Ward is 49ers' best cornerback

SANTA CLARA – In the six months since the 49ers converted Jimmie Ward to a new position, he has established himself as the team’s top cornerback, coach Chip Kelly said on Wednesday.

“We think Jimmie is our best corner,” Kelly said on Wednesday. “He’s our best corner and our best nickel. The ability to cover man-to-man in this league is first and foremost.

“So if you ask anybody what do you want in the secondary? Everybody wants a corner before they want a safety. We think that’s Jimmie’s best position.”

The 49ers drafted Ward with the No. 30 overall pick in the 2014 draft to serve as the team’s nickel back. He was a backup safety for his first two NFL seasons.

Ward is going through the concussion protocol and his status for Sunday’s game at the Miami Dolphins is uncertain. Kelly said Ward is not an option to replace Eric Reid, who underwent season-ending surgery Tuesday to repair a torn biceps. Jaquiski Tartt will start in place of Reid for the remainder of the season.

Veteran Tramaine Brock is the only cornerback who has started every game for the 49ers this season.

“Don’t diminish anything Brock has done,” Kelly said. “But I think Jimmie is the one guy who plays all over the place. He plays in the slot. He can play nickel. He blitzes from that position. He can match up with the top receivers on the outside. He’s a rare combination.

“That versatility is what puts him at the top for us.”

49ers sign former first-round pick guard


49ers sign former first-round pick guard

The 49ers added some talent in the trenches on Tuesday.

Guard Jonathan Cooper inked a one-year deal, the team announced.

Cooper was originally drafted No. 7 overall by the Cardinals in 2013. After two seasons in Arizona, he spent time with the Patriots, Browns and Cowboys.

Last season, he appeared in 13 games for Dallas.

“Having started 27 games in four NFL seasons, Jonathan brings great experience to the interior of our offensive line. We look forward to him competing for a starting job at guard, while also bringing a veteran presence to our locker room. Jonathan is a welcome addition to our team,” GM John Lynch said in a statement.

Richard Sherman envisions making contributions to 49ers on and off the field

Richard Sherman envisions making contributions to 49ers on and off the field

SANTA CLARA – Veteran cornerback Richard Sherman believes he has a lot of good football ahead of him.

But he knows he is not coming to the 49ers after seven seasons with the rival Seattle Seahawks just for how he fits into defensive coordinator Robert Saleh’s scheme. The 49ers signed Sherman to a three-year contract on March 10 -- one day after the Seahawks released him.

Sherman, who turns 30 on March 30, views his job description as being a major influence and contributor to the 49ers on and off the field.

“I think it’s probably 50-50,” Sherman said Tuesday in an interview with NBC Sports Bay Area. “Obviously, I’m going to be asked to play at a high level, and that’s what I expect from myself and that’s what I expect to bring to this team. But outside of that, I think I bring an aspect of culture and a winning mentality.”

Sherman is a four-time Pro Bowl performer and three-time first-team All-Pro. He said the commitment to winning is all-consuming. It is a mindset he helps to share with his new teammates.

“It’s about waking up and doing things that will contribute to winning later, whether it’s your diet, your sleep habits, how you treat your teammates, how you converse,” Sherman said. “Do you go out tonight or do you stay in and get some extra studying? What are you doing to help us win the game on Sunday? Just that mentality will help a lot of these people.”

There might be no young player on the 49ers in need of a good role model more than Reuben Foster, who is set to enter his second NFL season. Foster was arrested this offseason for possession of marijuana in Alabama. A month later, he was arrested in Los Gatos for alleged domestic violence, threats and possession of an assault weapon.

On Tuesday, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office said no decision has yet been reached whether to pursue criminal charges against Foster.

Sherman said he has not spoken to Foster but he will be willing to be a mentor to Foster and provide him with support. Sherman said he has heard a lot of great things about Foster.

“If I can help him, I’ll do my best,” Sherman said. “I look forward to meeting him and being a teammate of his, and helping him in any way I can. To think I can change everything he does, I’d be foolish to say I could. But am I going to try my best to help him and put him in positions to be more successful in the future? Yes, I am.”